Acknowledging there are good, kind intentions to provide food to our ‘wild neighbor’ foxes, such actions often have negative consequences. Wild animals will become habituated to those food offerings and less wary of human presence. They will be emboldened to enter yards looking for ‘handouts’ even in the presence of domestic animals (dogs, cats) and people including children. This often leads to confrontations with other wildlife (e.g. raccoons), pets, and people. The bad outcomes include perception that the wild animal is demonstrating ‘unusual behavior’, promoting aggressive fights with animals (competing for food/territory), injuries to pets and people from bite wounds – and the subsequent capture/euthanasia of the wild animal (fox) for unwarranted rabies testing – or unnecessary and costly rabies post exposure treatment of people/pets.
In general, feeding wildlife is not advised. Encouraging wild animals to congregate at feeding stations, including bird feeders, has predisposed to transmission and spread of diseases such as rabies and canine distemper (raccoons, skunks, foxes), and mycoplasma conjunctivitis and salmonellosis (songbirds).
Our wild neighbors understand their natural world and how to survive in it. Natural predators (foxes) know how to hunt for their prey (small mammals, insects, birds) which are plentiful in our town. They need to teach their young to hunt as well – and not seek pet food.
Please do not feed the foxes and other wildlife – rather, appreciate their wildness, protect their habitat, and be happy they decided to live among us.
Pat Klein, MS VMD & Town Council Member